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  • Lair
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4.6 out of 5 stars188
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 August 2014
Am re-reading James Herbert, after first reading most of his books quite a few years ago as a teenager. This is my favourite of the Rats trilogy.

It is, basically, what it says on the tin: giant, mutant, killer rats running amok. A fair amount of gore and the obligatory James Herbert "love" scene.

I do like the little stories Herbert always put in his books, describing various people and their lives, tragedies etc. They generally meet a sticky end but it pulls you into the story more. I also grew quite fond of the rat with the peculiar white scar running down it's head- it seemed to have it's own little sub story going. I was routing for it by the end of book.

It is a bit dated at times, but classic Herbert and a very enjoyable read.
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on 27 February 2015
The Rats was a stunning and absolutely gripping horror classic and would be very hard to follow but even though Lair isn't quite as good its still a corker in the same style as the first and nice to see a different setting this time.
Its takes a little while to get going this time but there is real anticipation and plenty of small sightings of the mutant nasties that you know it won't take long for carnage to break out.
The first real horror moment is in a graveyard and you will be pretty shocked at how graphic it is and its fingernail biting tension.
The rest of the novel is excellent but not as exiting as The Rats but when we get action it is breathtaking with some stand out moments belonging in a housing estate,the forest and a real jumpy chapter in the place they are investigating the rat problem.
The characters are very good like the first story though not as good as the previous book or the third book Domain but once again like every Herbert book we have a very strong lead character.
The finale is truly where this book gets the five star rating with a quite stunning attack by the rats on a huge house where the sheer power and size of the rats and the number of them is truly terrifying and is probably the best finale to any novel i have read.
This is as good a depiction of any end of the world type story you will ever see and even though i feel its the weakest of the three its still a classic part of a masterpiece trilogy of tension.
Once again rats will never look the same to you after this.
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2004
Following some eclectic journeying through the realms of the supernatural (The Survivor), fantasy (Fluke) and pulp thriller (The Spear), James Herbert returns to the 'unnatural disaster' format of his first two novels with this direct sequel to The Rats.
The action shifts out of London, and focuses on a new lair of mutant rats situated in Epping Forest. In true 'Jaws' fashion, the local authorities initially refuse to believe in any rat infestation until the spiralling number of deaths means they have no choice but to call in Ratkill and the army in an effort to kill off the rats for good.
While the events of the first novel are referred to, we get a new 'hero' this time - Ratkill employee Lucas Pender, though unimaginatively his back story is identical to the lead of Herbert's last novel The Spear (bereaved lead character who lost their loved one to the threat they now face, leading to an additional personal grudge whilest freeing them up for some love interest). In fact the characterisation here is the weakest I've yet seen in a Herbert novel, with most of the supporting cast existing as little more than names. The obligatory love interest is also very unconvincing.
Lair is reasonably enjoyable, with some gruesome deaths and frantic action scenes, but aside from a little development of the rats hierarchy there's nothing here that's better - or crucially, different - from anything in the first novel. The third time around Herbert's 'unnatural disaster' style is looking a little formulaic - lead characters gradual uncovering of events punctuated by episodes of violence perpetrated on characters created solely to die - and the open ending makes this novel seem like little more than a delaying tactic for the third novel in the trilogy.
Some exciting set-pieces make this worth reading for fans of The Rats, but ultimately Lair adds nothing new to the experience - just more of the same.
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on 17 September 2000
'Lair' is the sequel to 'Rats' and a prequel to the last of the trilogy - 'Domain' and really should be read in order to get the full benefit of this outstanding trilogy. The first James Herbert novel I read was 'Creed' and I have been hooked ever since. He is a masterful writer and I have not read any of his novels that I have not enjoyed. Lair is a gripping, chilling tale and I found that once I started it I just could not put it down until I had finished it. It certainly did give me a few nightmares but definitely well worth a read, the best out of the 'Rats' trilogy by far.
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on 17 June 2003
Lair is an outstanding follow up to The Rats. James Herbert has done it again, this book is a griping, easy to read classic that you will not be able to put down. Herbert's writing style is so discriptive that you will hate the sight of rats for ever more. This is a must read book that will make you a lifelong fan of the best horror writer in the world today, and will encourage you to get every one of his amazingly readable novels.
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on 16 December 2012
Lair is the second book in James Herbert's Rats trilogy. And just like its older & younger brother (The Rats & Domain), it is a nasty, violent and gory piece of work.
The Rats was an urban tale set in the city of London. Lair goes for the classic rural approach and sets it in the countryside outside of London. This setting adds to the whole isolation and helpless feeling, that you see in many a great horror film.
As I said, this book is violent. with a capital V! People get their faces chewed off, characters are devoured and even children fall prey to the vicious man eating rodents.
If you are a very sensitive person and are offended by extreme violence, then do not not read this book. However, if you love a good bit of blood & guts, then this is definitely for you.
Once again, characters are created and destroyed within a page. Every death is brutal and you really wonder what you would do, if you had three fingers bitten off and you were trapped in a room, with no exits. Where the only door, you can escape the room from, is being chewed open on the other side by dog sized rats, who's only aim and purpose is to enter that room and literally eat your face and any other part of you anatomy (Yes gentleman, you know what I'm talking about).
The Rats although they have no names and they do not talk. Herbert portrays these creatures as death machines, who love to kill.
I could talk forever about this book, but instead, all I can say is. If you want a fast paced gory read, where your main characters are punished and people die horrible, horrible deaths. Then this is for you. Enjoy :)

16/12/12
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on 6 October 2012
After reading `The Rats', I knew at some point that I'd be wanting to revisit the other two books of the trilogy, and as this is the first of the two sequels, it's the logical place to start (or to continue, if you'd rather...).

The main protaganist this time around is a pest controller, working for `Ratkill', a nice little set up to get us into the action, this time based in Epping Forest, where a small group of mutant rats that survived the mass extermination at the end of the previous book have been laying low and building their numbers, safely out of the sight of their natural enemy, man.

As with the previous book, I was survived just how tame the gore actually is, and how much of it there isn't. Time has moved on, I guess, but it's still a fun story, driven more by action and plot rather than character development - once again, Herbert excels at the set pieces in the book, and of course there is the obligatory early Herbert sex scene, which although still making appearances in his later books, is more sporadic. There are the usual little vignettes showing the Rats at their devious work, and these are always fun.

All in all, there's not much different here from the first book, but it's definitely worth a read if you enjoyed the previous offering. It's short, it's very easy to read (much like most of Herbert's early work), and well worth a go.

After reading this first sequel, it would be easy to think that there was nowhere to go with the mutant rat saga without creating a third book that was almost identical to the first two, but Herbert went for it, and did it in real style!
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on 3 August 2014
They are back and out for revenge, revenge against their most deadliest of enemies...us...mankind. four years on from the horror that caused hundreds of deaths in London, the RATS are wary, memories of their near extermination at the hands of the humans have been passed down to the current generation of mutant rat, their insatiable lust for human flesh and blood held back by attacking and slaughtering animals but not so many as to be greatly noticed by the human population. Now they have a new hiding place. You may never go into the woods again. REMEMBER WITH FEAR.
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on 16 January 2005
If you liked The Rats, then you will like this one, as it is more of the same, except this time the rats are on the rampage in a forest just outside London. (This is the second part of a trilogy, although the books can be read separately.) No-one does this quite like Herbert: The action is taut, the description is vivid, and the story is gripping. If the characterisation is a little one dimensional and the story a bit predictable, it doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the book. Come to it with average expectations and enjoy. Not his best but a good one nevertheless.
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on 4 August 2014
James Herbert continues the story of the Black Mutant Man Eating Rats in the sequel to the 1975 original. The surviving rats have left the city and are hiding, waiting to declare war on mankind again.
Herbert was the master of the page turning horror especially when the story line involves the real possibility of a plague of vermin.
Believable and extremely scary. Is that black furry thing you just glimpsed a friend or foe?
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